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Inside Politics

Qatar: Israel-Hamas Truce Beings At 7am Israel Time, Midnight ET; Israel: Families Of First Hostages Set To Be Released Have Been Noted; Aid Trucks Line Up At Egypt-Gaza Border Ahead Of Truce; CNN Speaks With Family Member Of Missing Israelis; IDF Continues Bombardment Of Gaza Before Truce Takes Effect. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 12:00   ET



AUDIE CORNISH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: 12 hours from now a long hope for truce will take effect in the Israel-Hamas war. It's scheduled to last for only four days. But during that time, Hamas has promised to release 50 hostages. Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners and allow more aid into Gaza. The deal was mediated by the kingdom of Qatar. A spokesman said he's "hopeful that with this deal, hostilities will stop."


MAJED AL-ANSARI, SPOKESPERSON, QATAR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: We are hoping that we don't see any delays. And I think we've reached a point now where everything is in place, and we are ready to go on the ground. So, we are hopeful that -- as I told you by 7 am tomorrow, everything will stop.


CORNISH: The first hostages are set to go free at 4 pm local time tomorrow, that's 9 am Eastern. They will include 13 women and children, and the Israeli government says it's notified their families. CNN's Becky Anderson is in Doha. And Becky, first can you walk us through kind of the outline to this deal?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes. Here's what we do know. At midnight eastern time, which is seven in the morning, Gaza time, there will be a pause. Qatar who have been mediating these negotiations and has gotten them over the line announced today that they have a specific time for a pause. The gums as it will stop at 7 am local time -- midnight eastern time.

There will then be a period of time before we see the show -- certainly the scheduled release of these first hostages. This is the first day of a four-day pause in the fighting. And on that first day at some point after 9 am in the morning, 4 pm Gaza time, we will see the release of the first 13 hostages. As you rightly pointed out, the list has been provided by Hamas of who those hostages are to the Israelis. And so, the names are now available to the Israelis and the families of those have been told. At that point, it is clear that those hostages at some point after four o'clock in the afternoon, 9 am local time, those hostages will be taken to the Red Cross, and the Red Cross will then take those hostages to one of the borders, and it's not clear which border. It's not clear how this is operationalized. Because Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs wasn't prepared to divulge those details and that's perhaps understandable.

But those hostages will then be taken by the Red Cross to a border and then taken by the IDF and looked after anybody -- any of the women and children. So that any of the children under the age of 12 will have their families there and those families have been notified, anybody over the age of 12 will go with the IDF. There'll be looked after. They will be taken if they need hospital treatment. And then they will be reunited with their families.

Let me just give you a sense on what we know about who those people will be. We don't -- at the moment, we know there are women and children. And we know they are 13 of the 50 being held by Hamas. I put this following question. Have a listen to the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier. Have a listen.


AL-ANSARI: The criteria on which to prioritize the hostage was purely humanitarian, as you know, and our focus was on getting the women and children out of harm's way as soon as possible, which is basically what we are doing within this agreement. And we will be going through -- hopefully that the momentum carried by this deal would help us get everybody out in time. And at the same time of course lessen the hardship of the people -- through the humanitarian pause that is taking place.



ANDERSON: That was in our answer to my question which was, are you running a separate track in negotiations for the release of foreign nationals. That was the answer. So, you have to surmise from that. There is a possibility that there are foreign nationals, not just Israeli nationals on the list of those who will be released tomorrow.

We do know that there are at least four women and children who are American citizens. One of whom, as we know, is a three-year-old. So, the hope will be from those family members that they are on that list of the first to be released. It is not clear for sure that that is the case at this point.

CORNISH: Becky Anderson in Doha, thanks for this reporting. Now part of the deal would include 200 trucks carrying aid and fuel that could cross into Gaza each day. And new video shows a convoy of trucks loaded with food, water and other desperately needed supplies, actually lining up at the border crossing in Egypt.

CNN's Eleni Giokos us joins us now from Cairo. And tell us from that position of the border, what the situation is like on the ground as we wait for this pause in fighting.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a flurry of activity. Frankly, our crews on the ground at the Rafah border say, they've seen so many trucks, dozens of trucks lining up from Al Arish to the Rafah border, frankly for the last 24 hours in anticipation for this truth to kick in.

The fact that they've now agreed to over 200 trucks of aid to enter Gaza daily, while this truce is on the go is really big news because we've heard from international organizations that have been saying, they're in desperate need of all resources from food and water, medical supplies.

And we have to remind our audience just what it means to be someone that is aided in Gaza right now, the chances are you'll get surgery without anesthesia, you'll get an amputation if that's required without anesthesia. These are some of the horror stories that we have been hearing.

We also actually bumped into a group of people that had just come into Egypt from Gaza. And they were saying that for days they had no access to food and water. That is how dire the situation is. So, the hope now is, get that aid into Gaza. The truce will of course, hold up for four days to get as much as possible.

CORNISH: That's Becky Anderson (Ph) with the view from Cairo. Now I want to talk about Israel because families there are waiting to hear if their loved ones will be released in this hostage deal. And one of those Israelis hoping for good news is Ido Dan. Several members of Ido's family were abducted from a kibbutz near Hamas's brutal -- during Hamas's brutal attack on October 7.

And since then, we've actually learned that two of his family members is aunt Carmela and his cousin Noya have died. Three more relatives, two cousins ages 12 and 16, along with their father Ofer are still missing. And Ido, I want to thank you for joining me today on what must be a very difficult day.

IDO DAN, THREE ISRAELI RELATIVES ARE MISSING, TWO WERE KILLED: Yes. Hi, good morning, Audie. Yes, it is. We're very nervous, to be honest.

CORNISH: What are your concerns? What are you nervous about as you're waiting for this call or to actually get information from the government?

DAN: Well, the truth is that we don't know exactly who will be released and how many of these really kids will be released and the mums. In fact, we know that the deal -- basic deal involves only 75 percent fish about, you know, of that group. So, it's pretty -- it's kind of a tossup with our -- -

CORNISH: So, you're saying 75 percent of women and children?

DAN: Exactly because the deal is about 50, which are, you know, I think it's a 30-children and eight are in the run for the moms. And then there are more, you know, probably -- it's not really clear what will be the rest to get to 50. But there is an incentive in the deal that for every additional 10 hostages, Hamas, ISIS will basically get another day of ceasefire. So, we can be just, you know, hopeful that they'll be included.

CORNISH: You're just using the term Hamas, ISIS, but do you have any clarity about who are the militants in particular holding your loved one?


DAN: No, we don't. No, we don't. But assumption is that Hamas, you know, Hamas has basically, you know their ability to get all the hostages, even though I heard some reports that they aren't -- how they claimed it aren't. There are several fractions there. But since, you know, Hamas, ISIS basically launched this massacre on October 7, so they are, you know, the address to get our loved one back.

But you know, since October 7, we are all one family -- all the hostage families, you know, which is like -- I think right now there are 236, because three of the hostages that were grabbed alive, actually came back in coffins, which is very, very scary for us. And right now, when we're one family, so whoever men should be released tomorrow would be just an enormous achievement and happiness for them.

CORNISH: You know, I want to make sure we get to ask you this question in particular about whether or not you have heard from the government itself. At this point, are you waiting for a phone call, or have you had a phone call?

DAN: We had a phone call.

CORNISH: Has this shifted your mood? You describe being nervous. It doesn't sound like you're hopeful.

DAN: We're nervous because we want to be -- we cannot celebrate until the military, you know, check them up and verify that the list that was communicated to us for tomorrow -- by the way, only the list for tomorrow was communicated, not the rest of the deal. Because the deal is like, should be -- 50 should be released across four days. So, until we get them verified -- and actually until we get them home and hug them and smell them and feel them, I don't think we can celebrate yet.

So that's the reason why we're very hopeful, but we're very nervous at the same time. And this is what has been, you know, our state for the past six weeks. But I must tell you that, you know, throughout the last six weeks, the pipe, you know if you can call it of releasing hostages and prisoners in both sides was very dry, nothing was moving there, no liquid.

And right now, we are really, really, really hoping that this first day, assuming that it will actually happen because it was already, you know, delayed 24 hours. So just, you know -- just something that happens, we're really hopeful that this will be the beginning of a set of releases that will eventually gets all the hostages back alive in Israel, and all the missing, you know, citizens back in Israel, and this is something that I mean, even if -- I know it's really hard to say for us, but I truly mean it, even if other kids will arrive in this -- I mean, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and not ours will be extremely happy.

CORNISH: You Dan, do you think that would be a shift for the government? Do you feel like there's been some criticism that the government was not prioritizing, getting the hostages back over their plan to eradicate Hamas? Do you think this finally shows that maybe things are changing?

DAN: I hope so. I hope so. Because -- and by the way, you know, also the kidnapper has a vote. Assuming that, you know, the other side will actually see the fruits of this negotiation -- this release because they are going to get prisoners that come as well.

So, I can just hope that they'll celebrate, you know, those prisoners and get more motivated to keep doing that until all the hostages are released. And then this would mean eventually what you're asking the government to put that above all the maneuvers in the other military objectives.

CORNISH: Ido Dan, I want to thank you. And we're thinking of you as you're waiting for the phone to ring again.

DAN: Oh. I really would like to cross my fingers and just to know that, you know, even if our family will get our -- be one to sit with us, you know, on the Thanksgiving table. I really, really hope too that the other 200 -- over 200 empty chairs in other families will be filled as soon as you know they can.


CORNISH: Thank you. Thanks again.

DAN: Thank you for having me, Audie. Thank you.

CORNISH: As Israel and Hamas are just hours away from what they hope will be a pause in fighting. Hezbollah and the IDF continue to exchange attacks in northern Israel. We're going to take you to the region to hear more about that next.


CORNISH: Today at Israel's northern border, the IDF claims it struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon with helicopters and fighter jets. After Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets at an Israeli military base. And with hours to go until the pause in fighting, Israeli airstrikes continue to bombard Gaza today. The IDF says 300 targets were struck in just the past 24 hours.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Sderot. And Jeremy, can you give us an update on what's going on?


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, the fighting continues here as we are now less than 12 hours away from this truce beginning, but the Israeli military has made very clear today. A spokesman telling us that they will continue to operate inside of Gaza. They will continue to strike Hamas targets inside of Gaza up until they get the order to stop before that truce goes into effect.

The IDF spokesman saying that it is, "business as usual inside the Gaza Strip." And indeed today, here from our vantage into northern Gaza, we have watched as the Israeli military has continued to bombard the Gaza Strip, we have watched -- we have heard a small arms fire indicating ongoing battles between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. And we have seen as the Israeli military has also been striking targets in southern Gaza as well.

All of this as we are learning new details about those 13 hostages were set to be released tomorrow, that won't happen until about 4 pm local time. They will be handed over to the Red Cross, who will then transfer them to Israeli forces at three different crossing points into Israel.

Children under 12 are expected to meet their parents or their family members at a designated points near those crossing points. The families of those over 12 are expected to go directly to hospitals across Israel, where they will get medical evaluations and also be able to meet their family members there.

All of this, of course, is a very delicate situation still. As we have seen the timing, you know, this was supposed to happen today and it was delayed by 24 hours, just showing how fraught, how delicate the situation is. And the potential of course, still for things to go wrong before this actually happens.

CORNISH: That's Jeremy Diamond. Thanks so much. Joining us now is Eyal Hulata. He's the former head of the Israeli National Security Council and a former National Security Adviser. Thank you for coming in. You know, our last guest, who has a family member -- has several family members who have been held said something interesting. He said the kidnappers get a vote too in talking about this deal. How do you see what's trying to be negotiated here?

EYAL HULATA, FORMER ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Hamas clearly negotiated very strongly over this, which is I think the kidnapping of those families, children, mothers, fathers, elderly, this is the most painful of all of the things that happened on October 7 for the Israeli public. And the fact that Hamas is playing hardball for so long, says a lot about the character of this terrorist organization.

At the end, for the last three weeks or so, Hamas has tried to squeeze whatever they can. Israel insisted to get the largest amount -- families that will come out together so that they will not separate mothers from their kids and siblings over this. And hopefully, this is what we will see playing out in the next 24 hours that was supposed to be today. And we'll see that happens.

CORNISH: There has been -- there are some fault lines here within the Israeli government. And I want to show you a quote from The Times of Israel, where a politician from the Jewish power party describes this as setting a dangerous precedent and kind of branding it is immoral, illogical, far from enough. What are we seeing in those fault lines?

HULATA: So, first of all, the minister was saying this -- is the most extreme member of the Israeli government, which in itself is a very rightwing government, very different from the one that I served as national security adviser must be told. So, I will not defend what he's saying.

CORNISH: Yes. Because he's in the levers of power. That's why I'm asking.

HULATA: He had three votes in the cabinet and this deal was approved in a large majority over the cabinet. But I think what's important to understand is the kind of sentiment in the Israeli population regarding this. We want to see the families back home, you know, we're saying in Hebrew column, it's inefficient (Inaudible). Everyone who saves one single life has saved the entire world.

But this does not mean that this comes without a lot of controversy. You will not see celebrations tomorrow in Israel because we know that there are about 190 hostages still there. And this world will not end before they all come out. And of course, the proportions. We get 50 hostages that were abducted, were released 150 terrorists, female terrorists, teenager terrorists, but that's what they are.

CORNISH: People who have been detained for a variety of reasons.

HULATA: Well, all of those who will be released were detained for attempting to murder Jews and Israelis over the rest of the years. This is not a hostage swap.

CORNISH: Right. So, is this a good deal?

HULATA: Well, I think that at this point, we need to bring them back. Those hostages have been in the tunnels for 45 -- actually 47, by tomorrow will be 48 days.

CORNISH: They're just talking about negotiating with the people you want to eradicate.


CORNISH: That seems like an untenable position.

HULATA: That's true.

CORNISH: And at the end of it, is there the possibility of extended ceasefire if more hostages are released? Is that actually what people are OK with given that they want to eradicate?


HULATA: So, the agreement is to extend this for a few more days and to get 10 hostages a day. I would assume that after that will happen. Israel will continue to attack Hamas. If Hamas was willing to release all of the hostages in the deal, this would have happened. I would assume that this would change the calculus of how this war ends, but clearly Hamas is only being squeezed in its agreement to release those.

And as long as you listen more specifically, it doesn't feel that the throat is close to his neck. I would assume that he will not release all of them. It's very difficult for him to release soldiers, men, because this is their ethos. This is what Hamas has been doing over the years. I expect this to continue. I expect the firing or the fighting to continue until Hamas has it at this point.

CORNISH: But does every day that there are hostages potentially released, change the calculus of the Israeli government at all?

HULATA: I'm sure he does. And this is why I said, if there was an option to release all of the hostages at one time, this may have been looking differently. But Hamas is not willing to do that. Hamas wants to bargain over this. And this is why we'll need to continue to put a lot of pressure on them. And eventually, just another comment on this because you said it, I think it's very, very important.

There will be no hope for Gaza as long as Hamas controls Gaza. Hamas has been terrorizing the Ghanaian population, not only us in this regard, and this will lead to end in a way that we can build a new future in Gaza. Hamas will need to end the war in Gaza.

CORNISH: And I'll leave it there for a moment. Eyal Hulata, thank you so much.

HULATA: Thank you, Audie.

CORNISH: Ahead, a closer look at how this major deal between Israel and Hamas could play out on Capitol Hill. And will a big military aid package to Israel be a casualty of the partisan breakdown in Congress?